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Wyoming News Briefs: October 23, 2019

Laramie man dies in I-80 wreck

LARAMIE (WNE) — A 34-year-old Laramie man was killed in a one-vehicle wreck a few miles west of Laramie on Sunday night, according to a press release from the Wyoming Highway Patrol.

Rudi Haskins was driving his 2002 Honda Civic eastbound on Interstate 80 when he exited the left side of the road before correcting to the right, entering a ditch on the south side of the road and overturning.

WHP troopers were dispatched shortly before 8 p.m. and Haskins, who was not wearing his seatbelt, died at the scene.

WHP is investigating driver impairment and speed as possible contributing factors to the wreck.

This is the 131st fatality on Wyoming’s roadways in 2019.

Even with more than two months left in the year, the number of Wyoming roadway deaths in 2019 has already exceeded the number of deaths for the last three years, when there was an average of 115 deaths per year.

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Tribal judge could be removed from office

RIVERTON (WNE) — A public hearing has been scheduled to determine whether Wind River Tribal Court chief judge Sara Robinson is to be removed from her office.

A public hearing notice from the Wind River Inter-Tribal Council cites Shoshone and Arapaho statutes which indicate that a judge may be removed on the grounds of “neglect of duty or gross misconduct” after a public hearing at which the judge may act in his or her own defense.

The statement did not contain any indication of the nature of the allegations against her but noted in a statement Thursday that there are two.

Robinson worked in the past as a juvenile prosecutor for the Fremont County Attorney’s office but was fired from the position in March of 2016.

Neither tribe would comment on the nature of the allegations as of press time.

Eastern Shoshone Tribe Attorney General Jonathan Sanchez said that the decision to clarify the allegations publicly would be determined by a vote within one or both business councils (Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho), to occur Friday afternoon.

The public hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Oct. 28 in the Wind River Intertribal Council Chambers.

Robinson was appointed as judge in August to fill a vacancy in the tribal court left by former chief judge Terri Smith, who resigned after she was arraigned on federal cocaine delivery indictments in March.

Smith, 33, has since pleaded guilty to cocaine and oxycodone delivery charges and will be sentenced later this month.

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Growers work to save beets after freeze

POWELL (WNE) — Even the smell in the air tells the story of freeze-damaged beets.

“You only have to drive by a beet field and the smell will tell that the damage is real,” said Ric Rodriguez, Heart Mountain grower and vice chairman the Western Sugar Cooperative board.

More than a week after the killing frost lifted on Oct 11, the area beet crop has shown signs of some healing. But these facts remain: A big percentage of the crop is still in the ground, and Western Sugar and growers must take measured steps to salvage what they can.

With the warmer temperature since the freeze, the damaged part of the beets has lightened some, which indicates healing. But the beets are still harmed.

That has forced a balancing act on Western Sugar: harvest only enough to keep the factory running.

The company’s response has been to run receiving stations to accept deliveries on a pre-determined, ton-per-acre quota basis from growers. The freeze-damaged beets are hauled to the factory in Lovell on a priority basis for immediate processing.

In the last week, most growers finished their quota deliveries on Friday; a few finished Saturday. The harvest was then shut down to get the damaged beets through the factory.

With the colder temperatures forecast for this week, another push-quota started Tuesday.

“The amount [of the quota] is yet to be determined; most likely it will be larger than the two previous quotas to get ahead of the colder temperatures in the forecast. It’s really a day by day assessment,” Rodriguez added.

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Military medals stolen from Cheyenne VFW

CHEYENNE (WNE) — Military medals dating back to World War II were taken over the weekend from a trailer outside Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1881.

Cheyenne police were alerted of the theft Monday morning after a passerby found an emptied shadow box near the trailer. The passerby called Martha Albright, whose father’s medals had been stored inside the box.

“For Cheyenne, I was shocked, because I didn’t think somebody would do something like that to military members,” Albright said.

Albright, who donated the medals about two years ago for Armed Forces Day, said other items, like her father’s jacket, were intact, but the medals were gone.

The trailer sits about 50 yards from the VFW post on East Seventh Street near Nationway. Though the theft was reported Monday morning, the break-in could have happened anytime over the weekend, post manager Clayton Schoepflin said.

The shadow box included Purple Heart and Bronze Star medals, Schoepflin said.

“You can’t put a price value on something like that,” Schoepflin said. “I could tell you that a Purple Heart, let’s say if it’s manufactured, costs maybe $15. But to somebody else, there’s no value to it because it’s so important to them or their family.”

While police investigate, Schoepflin implored whoever stole the medals to return them to the VFW post.

“Do the right thing,” Schoepflin said. “Because this is such a disgrace, not only to themselves, but it’s a disgrace to the family that provided these to us and to the member who earned them.”

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Two face charges after infant tests positive for opioids

EVANSTON (WNE) — Two Evanston residents are facing felony charges for allegedly distributing a controlled substance to a minor following a hospital visit in which a 2-year-old child had a urine drug screen that was positive for opioids.

Karlie T. Bradham and Miguel Echeverria have both been charged with distribution to a minor in the case involving Bradham’s child. Echeverria has also been charged with three counts of felony child abuse, while Bradham was also charged with child endangering.

In late August, Evanston Police Department Detective Jake Williams was called to Evanston Regional Hospital regarding a case of suspected child abuse. During that visit, the child’s injuries were described as “startling and readily apparent,” including severe facial swelling and bruising. Injuries documented during that hospital visit reportedly included multiple bruises and fractures and a urine drug screen that tested presumptively positive for opioids.

The child was transferred to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, where medical records included a diagnosis of “severe child physical abuse” and a positive opioid test that “may reflect intentional poisoning to quiet or put the child to sleep,” according to court documents. The report additionally stated, “Given the extent of injuries, (the child) is fortunate to have no traumatic brain injury at this point.”

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Subway employee tricked into giving scammer $700

POWELL (WNE) — By posing as one of Subway’s corporate officials, a phone scammer tricked a teenage employee into handing over roughly $700 from the Powell store’s cash register last week.

The scammer reportedly called Subway around 8 p.m. Wednesday night and told the employee they needed help with an ongoing investigation at the store.

“The employee was instructed to count the money … from the register to ensure the correct amount was there. The employee was to then purchase a gift card with a portion of the funds and provide the card numbers to the ‘corporate’ person,” Powell Police Chief Roy Eckerdt recounted in a Facebook post.

The corporate imposter reportedly claimed that local employees were about to be arrested because of discrepancies with the store’s cash — and that they needed to make sure Wednesday’s cash was safe. Eckerdt said the employee told police that she was told to divide the roughly $700 into two stacks and to purchase two prepaid credit cards; she bought one at Blair’s Market, just next door to Subway, but she was directed to buy the other at the Cody Walmart. (The employee was told she could keep $20 for gas, Eckerdt said.) The teenager got back to Powell late Wednesday night and soon realized she’d been tricked, coming into the Powell police station around 12:30 a.m. Thursday morning to report the scam.

Police posted the story to Facebook on Friday as a cautionary tale.

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Wyoming this Weekend, Oct. 25-27

By The Wyoming News Exchange

Escape rooms made out of rail cars where participants are encouraged to solve mysteries top the list of activities being held this weekend around Wyoming.

An escape room fundraiser hosted by the Boys and Girls Club of Douglas to be held through the weekend will allow participants to scour one of three train cars in the town’s Locomotive Park for clues to the mystery surrounding a group of terrorists who have planted a bomb on a train.

A fourth escape room, for younger participants, will follow an “Alice in Wonderland” Theme and will be held at Jen’s Books in downtown Douglas.

For more information, visit the Boys and Girls Club website at BGCDouglas.com.

Other activities scheduled for the weekend include:

A “Zombie Dash” in Pinedale on Saturday (VisitPinedale.org/events/event/zombie-dash);

A Halloween carnival in Boulder on Saturday (VisitPinedale.org/events/event/halloween-carnival)

A “pumpkin shoot” in Newcastle on Saturday (NewcastleWyo.com/events)

A “Metaphysical Fair” in Rock Springs on Friday (SweetwaterLibraries.com/event_detail.php?news_id=3857);

A “Boo-fest” in Gillette on Saturday;

Halloween Night at the Museum at Lander’s Pioneer Museum on Friday and Saturday (FremontCountyMuseums.com/event/halloween-night-at-the-museum/), and

Trolley Ghost Tours in Cheyenne Friday through Sunday.

For more information on these and other events, visit the Wyoming Tourism Division’s website at TravelWyoming.com.

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